Summer Shakespeare I

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2015: Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
June 17 - Aug. 19

June 17:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Conventions

June 24:
Romeo and Juliet
Language

July 8:
The Taming of the Shrew
Themes

July 15:
Richard II
History

July 22:
As You Like It
Comedy

July 29:
Julius Caesar
Tragedy

August 5:
The Merchant of Venice
Structure

August 12:
King Lear
Symbolism

August 19:
Twelfth Night
Ambiguity

Course Materials

New Folger Library Editions are available for all these titles and will be required. Reading Shakespeare from unannotated editions is one of the larger mistakes a young student can make — typically, mired down in unfamiliar language and fighting the medium in general, the student will be inclined to give up and forget the whole project — leaving a predisposition to dislike Shakespeare for years to come. These editions represent good scholarship, but intended for the general reader. Using them, moreover, will give us access to a uniform edition with thorough annotations, which will reduce the amount of time spent in “but my text says...” Please do not overlook or ignore this requirement. We will not have time to do textual comparisons or to explain things that are handled in the Folger edition notes.

I would also recommend getting hold of some of these plays in video format (or, best of all, seeing them live) if possible, but parental discretion is emphatically required: especially some of the recent film adaptations of these plays are demonstrably unsuitable for younger viewers (and a handful, I submit, are simply intolerable to anyone — but that's another question.) I am continuing to work on a website to provide further information about available video productions of Shakespeare's plays.

Supplementary critical reading is not required, though I have recommended a couple of books, especially for parents who want to give their students a little extra support:

You may order these titles through the Scholars Online Bookstore. There is a complete list with exact ISBNs and required editions.

The vast ocean of Shakespeare scholarship ranges from the giddy to the lugubriously dull, and from the dazzlingly brilliant to the idiotic. It's a wild world out there.